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Chicago mayor declares migrant emergency ahead of expected surge in the coming weeks

Since August of last year, Chicago has seen more than 8,000 migrants bused to the city.

Published: May 9, 2023 11:02pm

(The Center Square) -

As Illinois continues to welcome migrants from the Mexican border, officials are now scrambling to find the resources to care for them.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an emergency proclamation Tuesday in response to the influx of migrants.

“Yes, of course, we are a welcoming city and we always do what’s right by our immigrant and refugee communities, but we have reached a breaking point in our response to this humanitarian crisis,” Lightfoot said during a Tuesday news conference.

Lightfoot’s declaration grants the mayor the ability to request assistance from the Illinois National Guard.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser have been busing migrants to Chicago and other cities since last year to protest the Biden administration's handling of the border. Leeser also declared a state of emergency in El Paso as enforcement of the Trump-era Title 42 health authority ends Thursday.

Since August of last year, Chicago has seen more than 8,000 migrants bused to the city.

Activists are currently pushing for more resources for the many migrants arriving in Illinois, as hundreds are sleeping in police stations.

Lightfoot is not happy with the amount of FEMA funds the city just received compared to last year.

“We need a national solution for this national challenge,” Lightfoot said. “This can’t be done city by city, state by state. It has to be comprehensive and originated by the federal government.”

The situation will worsen this week, border observers say. Title 42, which allowed the government to turn away asylum seekers on public health grounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, ends Thursday. Tens of thousands of migrants have reportedly gathered at the border in anticipation of crossing into the U.S.

Some Republican lawmakers have highlighted the fact that Illinois is the only state that provides full health care for immigrants over a certain age. A recent report showed the cost for that health care will balloon to nearly $1 billion in fiscal year 2024.

State Rep. Marty McLaughlin, R-Barrington, brought up the migrant situation to members of the House Tuesday and asked his colleagues to do the right thing during budget talks.

“Please serve, protect and honor your pledge to take care of the citizens of Illinois first, particularly our most vulnerable, as we go over the budget over the next 10 days,” McLaughlin said.

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